Spirited Reviews

Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten


46% alc./vol.
Producer: Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Argyll, Scotland, United Kingdom

Released at the end of 2011, as the name suggests this is the 10-year-old base entry from Bruichladdich. Blended from 90 per cent first fill ex-bourbon casks and 10 per cent sherry casks and bottled on site without Chill-filtration or added colour.

Appearance: Clear (slightly cloudy with water), light golden with burnished gold highlights.
Aroma: Lightly dungy peaty with floral chamomile, salty grassy seaweed, lychee, white peach and honeyed apricot fruit.
Taste: Ruby port, salty seaweed, vegetal (school dinner cabbage) with invigorating eucalyptus and chamois leather/balsa wood-like, light oakyness.
Aftertaste: Salty, vanilla crème brûlée, ginger and lightly smoked.
diffordsguide rating: 4/5

Bruichladdich Black Art 1998 02.2 Aged 21 Years


49.7% alc./vol.
Producer: Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Argyll, Scotland, United Kingdom

To quote Bruichladdich's production director, Jim McEwan, "We have a lot of different casks here, first growth wine, port, sherry and bourbon. To make Black Art I do really crazy stuff with these casks but I won't tell anybody what I do. It is my dark art." What we do know is that he used 21-year-old malts.

Appearance: Clear, brick red bronze with copper tint.
Aroma: Port/wine-like nose with peaty punnet of dark forest fruit, rose petals, basil and vanilla.
Taste: Charcoal, soil, peat, red wine, port, red berry, sweet oak, burnt toast, metallic-like light iodine and rock salt. Surgical in its delivery.
Aftertaste: Long, very long - salty ruby port with faint peat and anise. A malt to challenge a port 'n' brandy, just lacks finesse.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Ron Abuelo 7 Anos Reserva Superior


40% alc./vol.
Producer: Varela Hermanos S.A., Vía Tocumen La Pulida, Panama, Panama

Ron Abuelo (literally 'Grandfather's rum in Spanish) is distilled from fermented molasses at the family-owned Varela Hermanos distillery in Panama. Aged in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels for a minimum of seven years.

Appearance: Clear, burnished copper.
Aroma: Resiny wood sap, caramel, overripe banana and cinnamon.
Taste: Initially sweet palate with dried fruit, nuts, orange zest toffee, leather and tobacco.
Aftertaste: Long, dry woody, smoky, fruity toffee finish.
diffordsguide rating: 5/5

The Botanist


46% alc./vol.
Producer: Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Argyll, Scotland, United Kingdom

Distilled by Bruichladdich on Islay with nine traditional botanicals (wild Islay juniper berries, cassia bark, angelica root, coriander seed, cinnamon bark, lemon and orange peel, liquorice root and oris root), augmented with 22 native Islay botanicals in a copper pot-still nicknamed 'Ugly Betty'.

The native Islay botanicals include: apple mint, birch leaves, bog myrtle leaves, chamomile, creeping thistle flowers, elderflowers, gorse flowers, heather flowers, hawthorn flowers, lady's bedstraw flowers, lemon balm, meadow sweet, peppermint leaves, mugwort leaves, red clover flowers, tansy, thyme leaves, water mint leaves, white clover and wood sage leaves.

Appearance: Crystal clear.
Aroma: incredibly pungent, resin-y pine juniper led and eucalyptus with subtle Parma Violets, heather, candied ginger and sage.
Taste: Dry and juniper, sappy pine dominated but with an integrated herbal complexity and faint liquorice sweetness.
Aftertaste: Junipery pine dominance continues in the clean finish with faint lingering parma violets and liquorice. A manly gin.
diffordsguide rating: 5+/5

Gilpin's Westmorland Extra Dry Gin


47% alc./vol.
Producer: Thames Distillers, Timbermill Distillery, Timbermill Way, London, England

Gilpin's is distilled at Thames Distillery in London using wheat neutral spirit redistilled with eight botanicals: juniper berries, sage, borage, lemon peel, lime peel, bitter orange, coriander seeds and angelica root. Water from the Holy Well Spring at Cartmel in the English Lake District is used for the distillation. (We are not told if the same water is used to reduce the distillate to bottling strength.)

Gilpin's is presented in a 'stock' Saver Glass rectangular bottle with a smart embossed and silver-foiled label, each bottle marked with the year of distillation, batch and individual bottle number. The label also depicts the Wild Boar of Westmorland which terrorised the Lake District in the time of King John until in 1207 Sir Richard "the Rider" de Gilpin killed it. As a consequence the Wild Boar became the symbol of the Gilpin family.

Appearance: (year 2011, batch No. 11/0001, bottle No. 2106) Crystal clear.
Aroma: Fresh, green pine forest with sage, thyme and faint whiffs of swimming pool changing rooms (in an agreeable way) with.
Taste: Bitter resinous pine with sage, peppery basil, coriander, fresh flat leaf parsley and chewing gum (Dentine).
Aftertaste: Lingering bitter sappy pine.
diffordsguide rating: 3/5

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2007


12% alc./vol.
Producer: Nyetimber Limited, Gay Street, West Chiltington, West Sussex, RH20 2HH, England

Produced from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes (as used in Champagne). Nyetimber's wines also undergo a champagne-like secondary fermentation in the bottle and spend as much as three years on the lees.

Vines were first planted at Nyetimber in 1988 but the West Sussex estate has benefitted from considerable investment since being acquired by Dutch businessman, Eric Heerema in 2006. The estate, which many consider challenges Champagne in the quality of its sparkling wines, now has 400 acres under vine.

Nyetimber's grapes are hand-picked with each section of each vineyard processed in separate batches. They are then pressed and stored in separate stainless steel tanks allowing winemaker, Cherie Springs, maximum control and blending potential.

Appearance: Clear, pale straw yellow with persistent but not heavy bubbles.
Aroma: Buttery brioche made with Victoria sponge and a slice of carrot cake with zesty citrus, mineral flinty freshness and a touch of verdant grass.
Taste: More pronounced lemon zest than the nose suggests, green apple skins and cleansing acidity with light biscuityness. Aperitif in its style.
Aftertaste: Cooking apple with bright zestyness and lingering acidity.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Appleton Estate 21-year-old


43% alc./vol.
Producer: Wray & Nephew (Jamaica) Ltd, Appleton Estate, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

A blend of Jamaican runs distilled from fermented molasses and aged for at least 21 years. Appleton 21-year-old received a package upgrade in April 2012 and is now presented in a decanter-style bottle. Appleton Estate 21-year-old is a once-a-year limited release sold on an allocation basis and each bottle is numbered.

Appearance: (bottled in 2011 No. 29819) Clear, coppery bronze amber.
Aroma: Candied, pungent dried apricot and passion fruit with banoffee pie, fudge, raisons, burnt/blacked fruit cake and nutmeg spiced oak and grilled almond.
Taste: Full bodied, burnt fruit cake, leather, passion fruit juice concentrated to the point of being sour with bitter spiced oak, Demerara sugar and root ginger.
Aftertaste: Sour, tart, citrusy, tropical fruit with lingering tannic oak, tar and tobacco ash.
diffordsguide rating: 3.5/5

Lanique Rose Petal Liqueur


39% alc./vol.
Producer: Polmos Lancut SA, 1 ul. Kolejowa, 37-100 Lancut, Poland

Lanique is the brand name under which Lancut (pronounced 'Wan-tsut') Distillery in southeast Poland exports to the UK. The distillery was founded in 1784 by Princess Lubomirska and it is said that this is where Pierre Smirnoff learnt his trade.

Appearance: Clear, lurid pinky mauve.
Aroma: Soapy Turkish delight-like rose scented with aggressive spirit aromas.
Taste: Syrupy but with sweetness balanced by obvious high alcohol strength peppery spirit notes. Slight acetone-like note detracts from the Turkish delight, rose water favour.
Aftertaste: Sweet, milk chocolate and rose water with cracked black pepper spirit spicyness.
diffordsguide rating: 3.5/5

Old Brigand Gold Rum


43% alc./vol.
Producer: R. L. Seale & Company, Foursquare Distillery, St. Philip, Barbados

Old Brigand is made from pot and column distilled rums blended before and after ageing. Although this rum has no age statement it is considered to be a five-year-old.

Appearance: Clear, golden amber.
Aroma: Toffee-apple with floral honeysuckle, vanilla, oak and the merest whiff of clove spice.
Taste: Dry, buttery whisky-orange-marmalade with vanilla, aged cider and cinnamon spice.
Aftertaste: Spiced, vanilla, barley water-like finish. Very dry with lingering old leather.
diffordsguide rating: 4/5

Berneroy Fine Calvados


40% alc./vol.
Producer: Berneroy C,G.E.V.F., BP 19, 16101, France

Distilled from "countless varieties of traditional cider apples" harvested, pressed and fermented, then distilled in an antique copper still before ageing in oak casks for an undisclosed period.

Appearance: Clear, pale golden.
Aroma: Rich, pungent cider with faint vanilla oaked spice.
Taste: Fresh and young with pronounced fruity cider flavours and light oak and cinnamon spice.
Aftertaste: Lightly spiced (cinnamon and nutmeg) with light elegant oaky and lingering stewed fruit.
diffordsguide rating: 3.5/5

Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana


15% alc./vol.
Producer: Bodegas Hidalgo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

A classically styled Manzanilla from the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. La Gitana means the gypsy and this flagship sherry from the family firm Bodegas Hidalgo is said to be named after a gypsy barmaid who entranced Eduardo Hidalgo, the great-grandfather of Javier Hidalgo, the present owner.

Appearance: Very slight haze, pale straw yellow.
Aroma: Lightly salty, mineral with faint green apple skin fruit.
Taste: Dry but not bone dry, delicate and subdued with faint saltyness and subtle apple and nut flavours.
Aftertaste: Lingering refreshing saltyness wiyth very light fruit.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Williams & Humbert Collection Oloroso 12-year-old


19% alc./vol.
Producer: Williams & Humbert S.A., Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Dry oloroso made from Palomino grapes from the Jerez Superior vinyards of Pago Balbaína and Carrascal and matured for 12 years using the oxidative aging process in the Oloroso Criaderas y Soleras system. Sugar content: less than 6 grams per litre.

Appearance: Faint haze, coppery amber with polished gold highlights.
Aroma: Rich and pungent, walnuts and nutty Christmas pudding.
Taste: Full bodied, stewed and dried fruit with nuts, oxidised apple cider and elegant oak notes.
Aftertaste: Faint boatyard varnish notes emerge in the long powerful, nutty finish.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Gordon Finest Scotch Highland Ale


8% alc./vol.
Producer: John Martin N.V., 191 Rue du Cerf, Genval, B-1332, Belgium

A Belgian-influenced, strong Scotch ale.

Appearance: Clear, deep mahogany reddy-brown with lasting off white head leaving heavy lacing.
Aroma: Toasted caramel malts with faint herbal aromas and peppery alcohol.
Taste: Bitter sweet, slightly syrupy, fruity Christmas cake, black cherry, honey covered toasty bread with sweet maple syrup and faint clove spice.
Aftertaste: Bitter sweet liquorish, morello cherry, clove and pepper.
diffordsguide rating: 3/5

Goose Island India Pale Ale


5.9% alc./vol.
Producer: The Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Illinois, USA

This heavily hopped India Pale Ale is Goose Island's flagship beer. It is brewed with Pale malt and Styrian, Fuggle, Cascade and Centennial hops. It is cellared for 180 days and has an international bitterness units rating of 55.

Appearance: Hazy, coppery amber with off-white lasting head with heavy lacing.
Aroma: Green nose of fresh hops straight from the field with wafts of apricot and mango.
Taste: Heavily hopped, bitter grass, pink grapefruit zesty, herbal salty palate with floral flavours.
Aftertaste: Pine resins, pine forest and jasmine tea finish.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Leffe Brune /Brown


6.5% alc./vol.
Producer: Abbaye de Leffe S.A., Dinant, Belgium.

This Belgian dubbel abbey ale is brewed buy the giant Anheuser-Busch InBev using roasted malt, corn, water, hops and yeast.

Appearance: Clear, dark reddy-brown with moderate beige head and heavy lacing.
Aroma: Demerara sugar, caramel, toasted current buns, dates, cocoa and faint clove.
Taste: Slightly sweet, lightly clove spiced malty palate with burnt raisony prune juice fruit, butterscotch and faint espresso.
Aftertaste: Fruity, lightly bitter finish with lingering clove spice.
diffordsguide rating: 4.5/5

Pere Jacques 2010 Belgium Style Ale



8% alc./vol.
Producer: Fulton Street Brewery (Goose Island), Chicago, USA

Brewed by America's Fulton Street Brewery, this ale has the style of a Belgian abbey dubbel and is brewing with 2-Row, Wheat, Caramel, Rye Flakes and Special B malts, and Saaz hops. (International Bitterness Units: 26)

Appearance: Cloudy, red-brown amber with little head and lacing.
Aroma: Malty, yeasty, brown soft sugar, sultana fruit and buttery toffee.
Taste: Slightly sweet, caramel, toffee with dark plum, burnt raison fruit and powerful alcohol.
Aftertaste: Demerara sugar, caramel and liquorice raison fruit.
diffordsguide rating: 3.5/5

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